Assess your child’s readiness for an overnight camp experience

When it comes to the “right” time for overnight camp, there’s no magic age. Every child is different and as a parent, you’re the best judge to determine when both you and your child have the confidence to participate in an overnight camp experience.

Below are some indicators to help guide your decision:

1. Your child wants to go to camp
Has your child brought up the idea of going to overnight camp? Have they been talking about singing songs around the campfire or bunking with friends? Showing enthusiasm and interest is a good indicator.

And you don’t have to wait for your child to bring it up—they might not realize going to camp is an option. Have an open discussion with your child about their desire to graduate from day camp and try an overnight camp experience.

2. Your child is independent
At camp, your child will be responsible for basic self-care like hygiene, eating meals, and going to sleep. They might also be responsible for reading schedules and getting themselves where they are supposed to be throughout the day and evening.

Staff members are there to help children at all times, but coming to camp with some degree of independence can contribute to a successful camp experience.

3. Your child has had a successful overnight experience away from home
If your child has slept overnight with friends or relatives—especially if they have done so for two consecutive nights, overnight will feel familiar.

If your child hasn’t stayed overnight away from home before, we also offer sampler sessions. Three-day samplers provide a great introduction to the overnight experience before campers work their way up to a week or more at camp.

4. Your child has a friend or sibling going to camp
Sometimes having a familiar face at camp helps ease any fears first-time campers may have. If your child’s friend or sibling is planning to attend camp, this might pique your child’s interest in attending camp, and can help them have a blast at camp together.

If your child is planning to attend camp solo—they’ll be in good company. Most children come to camp solo because it’s a great place to make new and lasting friendships.

5. Your child is willing to try new things
Consider your child’s personality—do they like to try new things? Do they enjoy making new friends and going to new places?

Camp gives children the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone in a safe and encouraging environment. Y Overnight Camp options range from traditional camp experiences, to specialty camps that focus on activities like horseback riding, rock climbing, sailing, skateboarding, and more. Staff members are always available to help children participate and progress in their activities to get the most from their time at camp.

If you think it’s time for you and your child to experience overnight camp, the YMCA offers four Overnight Camp options in Minnesota and Wisconsin for kids ages seven to 17.